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Wandy Rodriguez Rumors
The Rangers have designated righty Logan Verrett for assignment, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. The move clears roster space for the addition of Wandy Rodriguez.
Verrett was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles from the Mets, and was later claimed by Texas. He would ultimately be offered back to New York if no other club decides to put in a waiver claim once he hits the wire (as is likely).
The 24-year-old threw nine innings of relief for the Rangers in just four appearances. He struck out three and walked four in that span, and was charged with six earned runs. Verrett had worked as a starter in the minors, always exhibiting outstanding control and progressing quickly through the Mets system.
Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions on a quiet morning:
- The Rangers will purchase the contract of lefty Wandy Rodriguez in time for him to make a start tomorrow, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Rodriguez will only earn a league minimum salary, but will begin marching towards up to $1.8MM in available incentives with his first appearance. He spent all of camp with the Braves, who released him rather than taking on what would have been a $2MM base salary.
- The Rockies have optioned former starting catcher Wilin Rosario to Triple-A in spite of his hot start in limited action, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. Rosario seemed a plausible trade candidate over the offseason, though he was coming off of a tough 2014 and probably would not have drawn a palatable return. He has been productive at the plate since transitioning out of the regular backstop mix, but was not able to earn much playing time. Rosario was clearly disappointed by the move, though he said he expects it will be short-lived. It is worth noting that Rosario entered the season with 3.023 years on his service clock, meaning that a lengthy minor league stint could deliver an additional year of club control.
- While the Rockies enjoyed a hot start, questionable pitching has dropped the team back to earth. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post argues that the club has continued to exhibit a “defeatist attitude” in the way that it approaches outside acquisitions. That explains why the team settled for Kyle Kendrick instead of going hard for James Shields, says Kiszla, who disputes the Catch-22 conventional wisdom holding that the Rockies must overpay to get starting pitching but that the team will never again be baited into doing so.
9:04pm: Rodriguez will earn the pro-rated portion of the league minimum upon promotion to the Majors, but his contract also contains up to $1.8MM worth of incentives for games started, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
7:01pm: The Rangers announced that they’ve signed left-hander Wandy Rodriguez to a Minor League contract. The veteran southpaw will be assigned to Triple-A to begin his Rangers career.
Rodriguez, 36, made a name for himself in the Astros rotation beginning in 2008, and from that season through 2013, he worked to a combined 3.48 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 997 1/3 innings between Houston and Pittsburgh. He was in the mix for a rotation spot with the Braves in March but wasn’t able to lock down a spot despite enjoying an excellent spring. In 23 innings this spring, Rodriguez notched a 3.13 ERA (eight earned runs) on 22 hits and eight walks with 23 strikeouts.
The Rangers’ pitching woes have been well documented, with the most notable blow coming earlier this spring when they learned that ace Yu Darvish required Tommy John surgery. Additionally, former rotation cornerstone Matt Harrison‘s career is in jeopardy after a series of back injuries, and lefty Derek Holland missed much of the 2014 season due to knee troubles. The Rangers are currently relying on a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Holland, Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler and Nick Martinez — a questionable group whose ranks could eventually be cracked by a healthy Rodriguez.
Rafael Soriano is talking with multiple teams at the moment but doesn’t appear close to signing, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Soriano is still looking for a team as Opening Day approaches despite a largely successful season with the Nationals in 2014. Some scouts felt, however, that his stuff deteriorated late in the season, and Soriano did indeed lose his grip on the closer’s role in September. The last team connected to Soriano was the Twins, though team officials have since downplayed their interest. Here’s some more from around baseball…
- The Astros are looking to add another starting pitcher, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
- Also from Heyman, he opines that the recently-released Wandy Rodriguez could be of interest to the Phillies. Rodriguez almost joined the Phils earlier this winter but failed a physical, which led him to sign with the Braves instead.
- While the relationship between Josh Hamilton and the Angels seems strained at best, the two sides “like it or not…are stuck with each other,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only piece. Hamilton’s big contract, lack of production and off-the-field issues make him virtually impossible to trade, while Hamilton will likely have to accept a reduced role when he returns to the club.
- The Nationals are facing the most pressure of any team in baseball this season, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes in his rundown of the top 12 teams who have a particularly big need for strong results in 2015.
The Braves released left-hander Wandy Rodriguez today, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Rodriguez had been competing with fellow southpaw Eric Stults for the final spot in Atlanta’s rotation, so it would seem that Stults has won that battle. Last night’s acquisition of Trevor Cahill limited the remaining rotation slots and seemingly forced the Braves to choose between one of the remaining candidates as opposed to each making the club.
The 36-year-old Rodriguez hoped to lock down a rotation spot with the Braves after missing the majority of the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to a forearm strain and knee surgery, respectively. Rodriguez made a name for himself in the Astros rotation beginning in 2008, and from that season through 2013, he worked to a combined 3.48 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 997 1/3 innings between Houston and Pittsburgh.
Injuries limited Rodriguez to just 26 2/3 innings and a 6.75 ERA last year, but he looked sharp for much of Spring Training with Atlanta. In 23 innings this spring, Rodriguez notched a 3.13 ERA (eight earned runs) on 22 hits and eight walks with 23 strikeouts. It would be difficult to say that Stults, 35, definitively outpitched Rodriguez. Though Stults’ 1.89 ERA was superior, he also struck out just seven hitters in 19 innings of work for the Braves.
Rodriguez was set to earn a $2MM base salary upon making the club, but he’ll now instead hope to latch on with another team seeking some depth in its rotation.
- Though Cahill had an underwhelming 2014 season, assistant GM John Coppolella tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Braves see a lot of upside in the righty. “We saw his last outing, where he showed a real good fastball to 94 (mph) with real good sink,” Coppolella said. “We thought he was kind of a good buy-low, based on the fact he’s still young. He’ll be in a free agent walk year.” Working with noted pitching coach Roger McDowell could also help get Cahill back in good form.
- Coppolella didn’t comment on whether the team had decided to keep either of Eric Stults or Wandy Rodriguez, both of whom can opt out of their minor league contracts tomorrow. The two lefties are battling for the fifth spot in Atlanta’s rotation, and Rodriguez has been announced as part of the staff earlier in the spring, though that doesn’t appear to be a sure thing at this point.
- Acquiring a right-handed starter in Cahill checks one item off the Braves’ preseason to-do list, and MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the club is also looking to trade for relief depth and a backup center fielder.
- That backup center field job could still go to an internal candidate, with Joe Benson and Todd Cunningham looking like the top prospects for the job, O’Brien writes. Benson has already earned his way from the minor league camp to being an official non-roster invite to the Major League camp, even though Spring Training is almost over. Benson’s nine-year pro career has only seen him play 21 MLB games, all with the Twins in 2011.
Here’s the latest from the East coast:
- Phillies Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera is expected to be the Opening Day center fielder, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Herrera is a second baseman by trade, but the Phillies began using him in center field 10 days ago. He’ll displace Ben Revere whose poor routes and weak arm are better suited to left field. It’s unclear if that arrangement is temporary or permanent. The club entered this spring with a planned alignment of Domonic Brown, Revere, and Grady Sizemore from left to right. Brown will likely miss Opening Day with an Achilles injury and Sizemore has performed poorly this spring. It’s possible Brown will move back to right field upon returning from injury.
- Orioles outfielder David Lough will likely open the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Lough was already on shaky territory with a 5-for-27 spring. The lefty is viewed as a defensive replacement. The impending move will probably open the door for utility man Jimmy Paredes.
- The Rays are looking at external starting pitching options as they try to piece together a decimated rotation, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Among the candidates are Wandy Rodriguez, Shaun Marcum, Bruce Chen, and Clayton Richard. Internal alternatives include Matt Andriese, Mike Montgomery, Burch Smith, and Everett Teaford. The club doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 14th. Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Alex Colome are all expected to return relatively early in the season, so a large investment is viewed as unnecessary.
Despite carrying low expectations from the outside, the Braves have had good energy in camp, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who attributes it to a combination of the team’s acquisition of several intense and/or vocal veterans along with the presence of competition all over the roster.
Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NL East:
- The Braves are “still in [the] race” to land Hector Olivera, tweets O’Brien, who adds that the team is unlikely to offer more than five guaranteed years. Of course, a recent report indicated that Olivera might not yet have received a six-year offer, so if Atlanta is willing to move its bid up to the five-year range it could presumably have a shot.
- Meanwhile, the Braves have settled on Wandy Rodriguez for one of their final rotation spots, O’Brien tweets. Atlanta will hope for an Aaron Harang-like rebound from Rodriguez, who inked a minor league deal with the Braves after his agreement fell apart with Harang’s new club, the Phillies, over a failed physical. Rodriguez has looked good this spring, and currently owns a twelve-inning scoreless streak.
- The Nationals are open to dealing out of options outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore, but see him as a quality big leaguer who has a place in the team’s immediate plans, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The 28-year-old may be needed to start the year given the club’s injuries in the outfield, and would probably be the next man up at first base were Ryan Zimmerman to suffer an injury.
- Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla has had a fairly productive spring thus far as he looks to keep his career alive. As MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports, manager Matt Williams sees a legitimate possibility of Uggla impacting the club this year. “We haven’t defined any roles,” said Williams. “What we do know at this point is that he is seeing the ball well and he is playing well. I like his at-bats. … We haven’t defined those roles yet because we just don’t know.” As Williams went on to note, infielders Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon have been limited by injuries in camp.
Other teams asked Major League Baseball about the Rockies‘ decision to add John Axford to their roster so early in the spring, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Axford signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies in early February, but the team added him to its roster March 1, effectively turning a minor-league deal into a big-league one. To clear space on their roster, they moved Tyler Chatwood to the 60-day DL, a move they were not allowed to make in the offseason. The idea is that the team might have effectively agreed to a big-league deal with Axford but signed him to a minor-league deal purely to manipulate its roster. The Rockies, of course, could plausibly claim that they were impressed by Axford early in the spring and wanted to roster him so that he couldn’t exercise his out clause later in the month, perhaps making the decision early as a vote of confidence in Axford and in their team. Here are more highlights from Rosenthal’s latest notes column.
- Scouts have doubts about Stephen Drew as the Yankees‘ second baseman, Rosenthal writes. The Yankees signed Drew for $5MM in the offseason with the idea that he would provide veteran stability in the middle infield, given that they’re going with youngster Didi Gregorius at shortstop and their backup plans at second, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder, are also inexperienced.
- The Padres are reportedly among the teams most interested in Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but Rosenthal reports that they are unlikely to pay more than the $70MM Olivera expects to get.
- Teams interested in starting pitching depth could turn to the Braves‘ collection of minor-league signees, including Eric Stults, Chien-Ming Wang and Wandy Rodriguez. Stults can opt out of his deal April 3, while Wang can opt out July 1. Whether Rodriguez has an out, and when, is unknown.
Veteran lefty Wandy Rodriguez has failed his physical with the Phillies and instead agreed to a minor league deal with the Braves. Hector Gomez of Listin Diario first tweeted that a deal with Atlanta was close, with Marino Pepen tweeting news of the failed physical and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constution confirming that a deal was done (via Twitter).
Rodriguez will have a chance to earn the fifth starter’s role in Atlanta. If he does make the club, he’ll earn a $2MM salary, per a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It appeared that Rodriguez was ticketed for a similar situation in Philadelphia, but he will instead aim to throw for a division rival.
The Braves struck gold last year with veteran Aaron Harang, and will hope for the same in 2015. Harang, of course, is headed to Philadelphia, taking one of the rotation spots that Rodriguez may have been a candidate for.
Of course, it is far from a sure thing that Rodriguez will open the year with a big league job. Soon to turn 36, Rodriguez has struggled with injury and made only 18 largely unsuccessful starts over the past two seasons. On the other hand, he owns a track record of sturdy innings, with 1,471 career frames of 4.06 ERA pitching.